Daily Archives: 2 maggio 2014

NIGHTMARISH PHOTOGRAPHS BY PIETER HUGO

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I mean, do you honestly think a portrait can tell you anything about the subject? And, even if it did, would you trust what it had to say?

South African Pieter Hugo’s striking photographs of contemporary Africa, infamously referenced by Beyoncé Knowles and Nick Cave’s Grinderman music videos, have garnered global recognition. His work has been collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The FOAM Museum of Photography, and The Museum of Modern Art. With even a passing glance at this young artist’s curriculum vitae, his influence on contemporary art and photography is clear.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1976, Hugo is a self-taught documentary photographer. His images are created using a large format camera, a bulky piece of equipment that does not lend itself to the surreptitious photographer. His work hinges on a personal interaction and connection with his subjects. “The power of photography is inherently voyeuristic,” he said in an interview with The Independent last year. “But I want that desire to look to be confronted.” And yet, he is “deeply suspicious of the power of photography.”

The most well known book The Hyena & Other Men (2005-2007), documents a group of performers in Nigeria and Lagos who work with hyenas, baboons, and pythons. Hugo’s Nollywood (2008) a commentary on Africa’s film industry, is described by critics as “overdramatic, deprived of happy endings, tragic; the aesthetic is loud, violent, excessive; nothing is said, everything is shouted. ”Permanent Error (2011) studies a dump in Ghana where the obsession with gadget iterations—the tech industry’s “planned obsolescence”— is exposed in a narrative of global wastefulness. Although each of these evocative series asks us to reassess the perceptions of our world, Hugo’s Hague collection questions photography itself: its limits as well as its increasingly complex methods of representation.

The nature of Hugo’s subject matter has been criticized as sensational and exploitative of the “exotic other” — a criticism of documentary photography dating back to its inception. “My intentions are in no way malignant,” Hugo says, “yet somehow people pick it up in that way. I’ve traveled through Africa, I know it, but at the same time I’m not really part of it… I can’t claim to [have] an authentic voice, but I can claim to have an honest one.”

PIETER HUGO official site

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